Ohio mom says viral parenting tip on TikTok helped her find her lost toddler in public: 'I knew what to do'

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    A mother from Ohio says she used a tip she learned from TikTok to find her three-year-old daughter after the little girl walked out of sight in public, and now she’s spreading the word to other parents.

    Krista Piper, a wedding photographer from Rushville, created a video recalling a recent visit to the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, and how she lost sight of one of her two children while supervising the pair in a museum play area.

    “This play place is huge. It runs the entire length of this giant science museum, and the kids love it. It has a lot of nooks and crannies,” Piper said in her TikTok video, which she uploaded on March 24, the day of her family’s outing.

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    Piper’s daughter, Lily, had been going back and forth between the play area’s various exhibits, according to Piper.

    Krista Piper tells a story of how she momentarily lost her 3-year-old daughter at a science museum play place.

    Krista Piper, an Ohio mom of two, shared a story of how she momentarily lost her three-year-old daughter at a science museum play place in March 2023, and how a tip she saw in another TikTok video helped her locate her missing daughter quickly. (Krista Piper)

    “I was talking to another mom that we came there with because our two boys were playing ’cause they’re older,” Piper said. “And all of a sudden I don’t know where my three-year-old is.”

    Piper said she tried searching for her daughter, but she wasn’t having any luck, and that made her worry.

    In her video, she noted that before this moment, she had never lost one of her children in her seven years of being a parent.

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    “I started calling her name. Right after I started calling her name, a little light bulb went off in my head that I remembered a TikTok that I had seen probably over a year ago,” Piper said. “It was of a mom who had lost her kid in, I believe, a grocery store, and instead of yelling out the kid’s name, she yelled out the description of what her child was wearing, and she was able to find her kid way faster.”

    Piper said she switched from yelling her daughter’s name to describing the clothing Lily was wearing at the time — a pink Minnie Mouse shirt.

    “I’m sure people thought I was a little crazy,” Piper remarked in her TikTok video.

    Center of Science and Industry (COSI) logo outside of museum in Ohio

    Center of Science and Industry (COSI) is a science museum in Columbus, Ohio. Krista Piper, a wedding photographer and mom of two, said she lost sight of her daughter at one of the museum’s play areas in March 2023. (Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

    Piper said she heard other mothers in the museum play place repeating the description she was shouting while walking up and down the strip.

    “I was like, ‘Thank God,'” Piper said.

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    Eventually, a woman in the museum play place spotted Lily and caught Piper’s attention by repeating the girl’s clothing description.

    “Luckily, another mom said, ‘Little girl. Pink shirt. Minnie Mouse,’” Piper recalled. “I was like, ‘Yes.’ And that was her.”

    Piper said Lily was only missing for a minute or a minute-and-a-half, but it felt like time moved slower.

    Krista Piper says, "That was the quickest thing I could think of to say," in reference to describing her daughter's pink Minnie Mouse shirt as a physical description.

    Ohio mom Krista Piper says she yelled out a description of her daughter’s pink Minnie Mouse shirt to find her. She believes yelling out a physical description instead of her daughter’s name helped her locate her sooner. (Krista Piper)

    The mom of two said that looking back, she probably should have mentioned Lily’s age and hair color while yelling out her description, but the pink Minnie Mouse shirt was the first thing Piper could think of.

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    “So, PSA, if you ever lose your child or dog or anything, yell out their description,” she said. “Raise your voice.”

    She continued, “I probably looked like a crazy person, but it got the job done. I found my kid really fast versus me just looking by myself or just coming up to groups of parents and [being] like, ‘Hey, have you seen a girl with a pink shirt? You know, three years old,’ because that’s probably what I normally would have done.”

    She also said, “But the fact that I saw that TikTok, I knew what to do.”

    In a direct message on TikTok, Piper wrote to Fox News Digital that the incident happened around 2 p.m., and she felt moved to make a video public service announcement because she thinks that yelling out a physical description reunited her and Lily faster than yelling out a name.

    “I recorded the video for TikTok later that afternoon once we got back to the house,” Piper wrote. “I’m so happy more parents will learn about how to describe their kids if they get lost!”

    The three-minute-and-38-second TikTok video has been viewed more than 596,700 times since its March upload.

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    It’s also received over 61,800 likes, 1,770 shares and 1,670 comments.

    In 2021 and 2022, another TikTok user @jesmartini made headlines for sharing the same parenting PSA that Piper describes. Those videos garnered millions of views on the video-sharing platform, search results revealed.

    “Yell out their description. Raise your voice.”

    Commenters on TikTok were largely impressed with Piper’s tip and thanked her for sharing it with parents who may not have heard of the trick from the original creator.

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    “To be honest, if I hear someone calling a kid’s name I don’t really think they are ‘lost,’” one TikTok commenter wrote. “Yet someone who starts call[ing] descriptions, I [100%] would look.”

    Lost girl crying in busy train station

    Parents, guardians and babysitters can accidentally lose children in a crowd if they don’t have eyes on them for a period of time. (iStock)

    “Aw, the moms all coming together makes me wanna cry,” another TikTok user wrote.

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    “Ooo, it’s so scary when our little ones get away from us!” a TikTok user commented. “So glad you had that skill to fall back on!”

    Said another used, “I could see you starting to tear up and I felt it. It’s such a scary feeling when they get away from you. It really does happen and fast.”

    Other commenters shared stories of how they had momentarily lost a child or how guardians they know once lost a child. 

    Boy sits alone on park swing

    More than 337,190 children were reported missing in 2021 and 93,718 children remained missing by the end of the year, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center. (iStock)

    It appears parents, guardians and babysitters, according to the TikTok comments, commonly lose children in stores, malls, parks, beaches and amusement parks.

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    The latest “Missing and Exploited Children” report published by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) received 521,705 reports of missing people in 2021, and 337,195 of those reports were related to missing youth.

    Out of the hundreds of thousands of cases, the Department of Justice wrote that 93,718 records of missing youth “remained active as of December 31, 2021,” according to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.

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